The surprising number of Americans who say they’ve lived in a haunted house


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A whole lot of things, according to a new survey from Real Estate Witch — including mold, a leaky roof, and termites.

Surprisingly, ghosts barely made the list of homebuyer fears. Even more surprisingly, the survey found that a significant number of buyers would actually pay more to live in a haunted house. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!

Of course, buying and selling a home can be scary enough even without ghosts involved. From worrying about real estate commission, to choosing the right real estate agent, to trying to sell your home without a realtor, to deciding whether you really need a real estate attorney, a home transaction is just one big decision after another.

Still, deciding which discount broker to work with isn’t nearly as unnerving as that mysterious moaning noise coming from the attic. Then again, a lot of homebuyers disagree. Read on to learn what buyers are really scared of, how many people actually believe in ghosts (more than you think!), and what percentage of respondents would move out if they saw a literal ghost shuffling down the hallway of their new home.

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1. A large majority of Americans believe in the supernatural

According to Real Estate Witch’s survey, a whopping 76% of Americans believe in the supernatural. What, you might be asking yourself, fits the definition of “supernatural”? Ghosts? Vampires? Werewolves? UFOs?

Technically, the answer is: all of the above. But the definition also includes all phenomena that can’t be explained by science, so before you start suspecting your neighbor of believing in Count Chocula, bear in mind that a belief in the supernatural is simply an acknowledgement that we haven’t reached the limits of all possible knowledge.

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2. Americans’ belief in the supernatural is based on firsthand experience

When that 76% of Americans say that they believe in the supernatural, it isn’t because of something they saw on TV or in a movie; 73% of Americans say they’ve experienced a supernatural event.

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3. Belief in the supernatural is growing at an incredibly fast rate

In Real Estate Witch’s 2019 survey, 44% of respondents said they believed in the supernatural. In the 2020 survey, that number rose to 70% of Americans. In 2021, it’s 76%, for a staggering 32% increase in only three years!

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4. 44% of Americans believe they’ve lived in a haunted house

Ever heard strange noises in the middle of the night or seen shadowy figures floating down your hallway? You’re not alone! Nearly half, or 44%, of Americans believe they’ve cohabitated with ghosts.

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5. And the ghosts are getting bolder!

Among Americans who believe in the supernatural, 44% of them say c activity has increased since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020.

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6. However, a ghost in the house isn’t necessarily a dealbreaker

Amazingly, the presence of ghosts isn’t a huge deterrent to potential homeowners. Of those who believe they’ve lived in a haunted house, 63% say they were told about the haunting before they lived in the house — and moved in anyway!

Although there isn’t any legal obligation to disclose the presence of ghosts, this survey suggests that you might as well go ahead and tell buyers if you think your home is haunted; there’s a good chance they won’t care.

In fact, only 5% of homeowners thought ghosts were the scariest thing to find in their home.

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7. The scariest thing that homeowners can find in their home? Mold.

57% of respondents cited mold as the scariest aspect of homeownership, while 56% cited foundation issues. In a three-way tie, at 54%, was termites, asbestos, and water damage, followed by pests and a leaky roof, both at 53%.

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8. As the real estate market heats up, more people say they’d be open to buying a haunted house

In 2020’s survey, 59% of respondents said they’d be open to being roommates with ghosts; that number rose to 73% in 2021.

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9. A small percentage of Americans would actually prefer to live in a haunted house

Surprisingly, 15% of respondents said they’d take a haunted house over a non-haunted house. Like many of the other preferences in this survey, this has also increased over the past year; in 2020, only 5% of respondents said they’d prefer a haunted house.

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10. Young people are more ghost-friendly than older generations

Almost one in five millennials (18%) said they’d prefer a haunted house over a non-haunted house; only 3% of Baby Boomers were as ghost-friendly.

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11. Americans who believe in the supernatural are more likely to consider purchasing a haunted house

75% of believers said they’d consider buying a house with ghosts, while only 64% of nonbelievers said they’d buy a haunted house. This is pretty counterintuitive when you break it down; people who say ghosts are NOT real are more likely to say “no way!” when offered a haunted house than people who DO believe in ghosts. This suggests that many of the people who claim they don’t believe in the supernatural actually do — but just don’t want to admit it.

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12. More than half of people who’d move into a haunted house would demand a discount on the price

This is just smart negotiating; even if you love ghosts, a house with a ghost problem is no different, on some level, than a house with a mold or termite problem.

Almost a fifth (19%) would ask for a discount of 1-20% below market value, another fifth (20%) would ask for a 21-50% discount, and 13% would ask for a discount of more than 50% below market value.

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13. 27% of respondents would actually pay above market value for a haunted house

The current real estate market is forcing homebuyers to make some crazy decisions. And for a little over a tenth of respondents (11%), a haunted house is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity; they’d pay more than 50% above market value for a chance to cohabitate with a ghost.

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14. Millennials are more likely to break the bank for a haunted house than boomers

Millennials are 2.5x more likely than boomers to pay 50% or more above market value for a haunted house and 2.4x more likely to pay 1-20% above market value. Who says millennials are bad with money?

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15. Almost a third of respondents could be enticed into buying a haunted house

If you have ghosts in your house, don’t worry; you can still attract buyers. The most popular incentive, at 63% of respondents, was a lower price, followed by a safer neighborhood (57%), friendly ghosts (53%), and modern renovations and/or appliances (41%). Cut the price and install a nice stainless steel chef’s range, and you should be able to sell even the scariest haunted house.

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16. Millennials are more flexible and pragmatic about haunted houses

When it comes to being persuaded to buy a haunted house, millennials are 1.7x more likely than boomers to be swayed by a better school district, 1.4x more likely to be swayed by more square footage, and 1.2x more likely to be tempted by a safer neighborhood.

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17. When asked about how they knew their house was haunted, respondents had an variety of answers

A large majority of respondents (64%) cited strange noises as proof of ghosts, followed by feelings of being touched or watched (60%), strange shadows around the home (59%), ghost sightings (56%), cold or hot spots in the home (55%), certain rooms with an eerie or haunted feeling (54%), and objects moving or levitating on their own (50%).

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18. Ghosts are scary — but a lot of other things are even scarier

Ghosts weren’t actually very high on the list of things homeowners are scared of; unexpected costs such as home repairs or HOA fees was the scariest thing for 63% of respondents. That was followed by natural disasters (54%), bad neighbors (51%), inability to pay mortgage (51%), the house burning down (49%), rising crime in the neighborhood (47%), and home value depreciating (46%).

As scary as ghosts are, this list makes sense; if you have a haunting problem, you can call in an exorcist, but if you can’t pay your bills or your mortgage sinks underwater, there’s really nothing you can do.

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19. Although Americans harbor a lot of fears regarding homeownership, they don’t take many safety precautions to address those fears

Among survey respondents, two-thirds (66%) don’t have a radon detector, 45% don’t have a security system, 40% don’t have a carbon monoxide detector, 38% don’t have a fire extinguisher, and 29% don’t have smoke detectors or sprinklers.

Seems like a lot of Americans are taking the “cross our fingers and hope for the best” approach to home safety.

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20. Millennials are much more anxious about homeownership than boomers

The Real Estate Witch survey found that millennials are 2.3x more likely to fear falling home values, 2.1x more likely to fear a house fire, 1.8x more likely to fear natural disasters, and 1.7x more likely to fear unexpected costs.

This higher level of general anxiety among the younger generation makes sense, as they’re much less economically secure than the preceding generations; only 42% of millennials are able to own a home by age 30, compared to 51% for boomers.

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21. But there’s a silver lining to millennials’ higher level of fearfulness

When compared to boomers, millennials take more safety precautions than their elders. They are 2.1x more likely to have a radon detector and 1.8x more likely to have a security system.

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22. People are afraid of garbage as much as they’re afraid of ghosts

Only 48% of respondents would rather live in a haunted house than one that was located within a mile of a waste management facility. An almost identical percentage (47%) would rather live in a haunted house than in a house that was the scene of a violent crime, while 45% of respondents preferred ghosts over a former meth lab, 44% would take a haunted house over one located within a mile of a prison, and 39% would take a home with ghosts over one that was next to a cemetery.

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23. A third of Americans are very superstitious about numbers

The survey found that 33% of Americans would rather live in a confirmed haunted house than a normal, non-haunted house with an address featuring “666.”

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24. Millennials are less financially secure and more fearful but also pickier than older generations

Another interesting finding from the survey is that although millennials are on much shakier ground than boomers, they’re also 2.5x more likely to reject a home that was the scene of a serious crime, 1.9x more likely to reject a house that’s dirty or within a mile of a busy highway, and 1.8x more likely to reject a home in which someone died of natural causes.

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25. More than one in 10 Americans wouldn’t pack their bags if they saw a ghost with their own eyes

A surprising 11% of respondents said they wouldn’t move even after they observed direct evidence of a haunting. Maybe those couples in horror movies who stick around even after blood starts dripping from the walls aren’t so unrealistic after all.

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26. Many Americans would vacate immediately if they saw signs of a haunting

45% of respondents said they’d move out ASAP if they saw objects moving or levitating in their home, 42% said they’d clear out if they experienced the feeling of being touched or watched, 40% said they’d leave if their children suddenly behaved strangely in the home, and 38% would move if a serious crime was committed nearby.

Only 37% said they’d pack their bags if they saw a ghost in the home, so more people rated “being touched” and “kids acting weird” to be scarier than a literal ghost.

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27. If the house you’re looking at is haunted, the sellers probably won’t tell you about it

A large majority of respondents (62%) said they would avoid disclosing a haunting to potential buyers. Almost a third (32%) would only disclose the haunting if they were legally required to do so, 20% would only disclose a ghost if directly asked, and 10% wouldn’t tell buyers about the haunting even if they were legally required to do so.

Overall, only 38% of respondents said they’d tell a buyer about a haunting, regardless of their legal obligations to disclose.

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28. A large percentage of Americans think the government should require sellers to disclose supernatural activities

In the 2020 survey, 63% of respondents said ghosts should be on the list of legally required disclosures, and that number rose to 73% in 2021.

Basically, a lot of people would try not to tell buyers about a haunting but think the law should force them to do so.

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